With the release of “Dumb and Dumber To” this past week, one cannot help but think back to the film that started it all, the 1994 cult classic “Dumb and Dumber.” Now, to be clear, I’ve seen this movie before, but it was a long time ago, and I hardly remember anything about the plot. The one thing that I do remember after my original viewing is the dynamic between Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. That was the best thing about this film for me. And after watching it again, I found that that is the thing that holds the whole film together: “Dumb and Dumber” is a testament to the comedic gold that comes when Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are onscreen together, and I enjoyed every second of it.
The plot revolves around two idiots, Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Daniels) who travel to Aspen to return a briefcase belonging to a woman named Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly), who Lloyd drives to the airport and immediately falls in love with. Unbeknownst to these two morons, however, Mary intentionally left the briefcase, which is full of ransom money, to deliver it to criminals holding her husband hostage. Now not only are Harry and Lloyd making their way to Aspen, they’re unknowingly avoiding getting killed or arrested on several occasions, with hilarity and dirty jokes coming in abundance. The plot is a pretty straightforward buddy comedy road trip storyline for the first two thirds and very enjoyable, with every pit stop these guys make bringing something new to the experience. No pit stop feels the same as the one before, and the way Harry and Lloyd interact with locals is hilarious. I’ve always found that I enjoy road trip films when I watch them, which isn’t really that often, so this part of the movie is my favorite by far. Where the film starts to slow down a bit is when the dynamic knuckleheads make it to Aspen; it’s funny for a little while, but then it starts to wear a little thin. That’s also when Harry starts to act really out of character when he tries stealing Mary away from Lloyd (even though Mary was never Lloyd’s to have stolen).
As I said before, the two leads of this movie really steal the show; Daniels and Carrey are hilariously ignorant as Harry and Lloyd. Lloyd is definitely the bigger idiot of these two idiots, with Harry actually having half a brain cell in his skull, whereas Lloyd, quite frankly, has none. Their lack of brain power makes them unbelievably naïve, and this makes the people around them very confused and often results in their getting hurt or humiliated. The bad guys in this movie, in their own way, are also pretty stupid; though it occurs to them a few times, they never make the realization that Harry and Lloyd are just a couple of idiots with some of the best luck imaginable when it comes to not getting killed. These lapses in judgment by our main bad guys are what make them very enjoyable characters themselves. Looking back, I found that the bigger conflict of this movie was not the main focus; in any other movie, they would have focused on the fact that the main female lead’s husband was being held for ransom, but instead it focuses on Harry and Lloyd getting the money back to said leading lady.
There are some jokes in this movie that are classics of American cinema nowadays, like Jim Carrey’s improvised “most annoying sound in the world” and Jeff Daniels hilarious toilet gag. There isn’t much in the way of actual jokes in this movie, as most of the comedy comes from the mannerisms of our main characters. In addition, when Harry and Lloyd completely misunderstand things like sarcasm, it often leads to light chuckles. One of the best bits of physical comedy come when Harry and Lloyd are stuck in odd or uncomfortable positions, like when they are frozen together after several hours riding on a scooter to Aspen, or when Harry gets his tongue stuck to a pole. These are the highlights of the physical comedy in this movie.
All in all, “Dumb and Dumber” is full of hilarious comedy that has become timeless in its own right. True, some of the humor and situations may just be seen as childish, but the real thing that you watch this movie for is the dynamic between Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. If you want to go see the sequel that just came out, make sure to watch the original cult classic that started it all.
By Joey Sack